November 28, 2011; Rush Limbaugh Show | That Rush Limbaugh, boy—he’s one fun guy. Deciding to channel Gordon Gekko for a moment, he gave a ringing endorsement for the social benefits generated by greed over charity. In joining a caller from Indiana in endorsing the lack of compassion in providing food stamps to the hungry and unemployment compensation to the jobless, Rush took off on charity, and we quote verbatim:
Whatever subset of people you want to talk about, what has fed more people, greed or charity? . . . It’s a multiple-choice question with two possibilities: Greed or charity . . . That’s right: Greed! Greed has fed more mouths than charity ever could. If you don’t like the word “greed,” use “self-interest.”. . . See, Dawn’s in there saying, “You shouldn’t say ‘greed.’ It’s just gonna make people think you have no heart, and people are gonna think that you’re all for suffering. Don’t say ‘greed.'” Okay, self-interest, then . . . “There, that’s better.” Okay. Self-interest versus charity. Self-interest will feed more mouths every time it’s tried. It’s not even close.”
No, we don’t think that Limbaugh’s full-throated defense of free-market capitalism means that he has no heart. We think it means that he hasn’t even a germ of understanding of charity and philanthropy—or government. Charity isn’t attempting to replace the capitalist system, but it certainly seeks to blunt the negative impacts of hard-hearted business. Government assistance such as food stamps isn’t “charity”—it’s a government responsibility to help those who cannot adequately help themselves in this economy or indeed any economy. And the pervasiveness of malnutrition and hunger in the world should show Limbaugh that greed has fallen plenty short of responding to the world’s hunger challenge.
Gordon Gekko couldn’t have pulled off the Limbaugh statement better.—Rick Cohen